By Kat Giantis
Special to MSN Entertainment
Just a week after some overly candid pictures of Miley Cyrus hit the Internet, including one of her flashing a hint of green bra (more on those shots below), a less informal but equally teasing pose has kicked up a PR controversy.
On Sunday, the family-friendly "Hannah Montana" phenom, 15, tried to distance herself from a photo in the June issue of Vanity Fair that features her clutching a silk sheet to her chest, her bare back exposed, reports the New York Times.
"I took part in a photo shoot that was supposed to be 'artistic' and now, seeing the photographs and reading the story, I feel so embarrassed," Miley said in a statement. "I never intended for any of this to happen and I apologize to my fans who I care so deeply about."
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In the accompanying article, Cyrus discusses the Annie Leibovitz-captured image, which isn't so much provocative as unflattering and eerie, explaining, "Annie took, like, a beautiful shot, and I thought it was really cool. That's what she wanted me to do, and you can't say no to Annie."
She added, "I think it's really artsy. It wasn't [done] in a skanky way."
Disney, likely worried about its squeaky-clean cash cow maturing too quickly for her target kindergarten-to-tween demographic ("Hannah Montana" merchandise sales are expected to top $1 billion for the 2007-2008 period), has quickly come to Miley's defense, blaming the magazine for putting her in the skin-baring position.
"Unfortunately, as the article suggests, a situation was created to deliberately manipulate a 15-year-old in order to sell magazines," Disney spokeswoman Patti McTeague asserts to the Times.
Not surprisingly, Vanity Fair has a different take on how the photo shoot went down, with a rep insisting, "Miley's parents and/or minders were on the set all day. Since the photo was taken digitally, they saw it on the shoot and everyone thought it was a beautiful and natural portrait of Miley."
A Cyrus source tells People magazine that her parents left the shoot before the ersatz topless pose, but "her grandmother and her teacher were there when she shot it. Annie convinced them it was going to be artistic. Her parents are mortified. They know this is a learning moment for Miley."
What's more, the insider adds, "The photo suggests that she is [naked], but she is not. She is covered by a sheet, and beneath the sheet she is clothed. Originally, she was in a flesh-colored tank top but was asked to remove it."
Cyrus has apparently decided this latest photo flap is as good a time as any to apologize for the snaps that popped up online last week, which featured the aforementioned green bra pic, along with another of her laying -- midriff exposed -- across the lap of a guy that People says was her then-boyfriend (he's reportedly the son of her producer).
"The pictures of me on the Internet were silly, inappropriate shots," Miley mea culpas to the magazine. "I appreciate all the support of my fans, and hope they understand that along the way I am going to make mistakes and I am not perfect. I never intended for any of this to happen and I am truly sorry if I have disappointed anyone."
Concludes Billy Ray's little girl, "Most of all, I have let myself down. I will learn from my mistakes and trust my support team. My family and my faith will guide me through my life's journey."
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